north korea is making millions selling sand. yes, sand
As part of their work at the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a nonprofit that analyzes and investigates security issues using big data, the two analysts keep an eye on traffic in North Korean waters and further afield in Northeast Asia
They do this because Pyongyang has been accused of selling coal and other valuable goods, sometimes in very big quantities, on the high seas to get around the prying eyes of customs officers, who must enforce United Nations sanctions on North Korea. Instead of moving goods into a port before trading, North Koreans supposedly just move them from one ship to another at sea and lie about their origins
But these ships weren't being used for running guns, dealing drugs, offloading counterfeit cash or trafficking endangered species, crimes North Korea is notorious for worldwide. They weren't even carrying coal, Pyongyang's most profitable export
They were being used to dredge and transport sand. That may seem innocuous, but North Korea is barred from exporting earth and stone under United Nations sanctions passed in December 2017. Trading North Korean sand is a violation of international law
Despite those measures, North Korea raked in at least $22 million last year using "a substantial sand-export operation," UN investigators said in a report released in April. One unnamed country supplied the Panel of Experts on North Korea, as the investigators are formally known, with intelligence claiming that Pyongyang sent one million tons of sand abroad from May 2019 until the end of the year.
The scheme was prominently featured in the panel's annual report. Alastair Morgan, who coordinates the UN panel that monitors sanctions on North Korea, said in an email that the report's authors decided "the large scale and the significance" of the operation warranted top billing
Kuo and Sung watched the ships for several weeks before noticing a pattern. All of those showing up in North Korean waters had a link to China. Some were flying Chinese flags. Others had Chinese names.
So they turned to satellite imagery, perhaps the most important tool among the growing open-source intelligence community. The photographs they got their hands on showed clouds of sand under what appear to be dozens of barges and dredgers, evidence that earth was being pulled up from the bottom of the sea en masse in North Korean waters
"We found plenty of reports from the early 90s to the present indicating that rather than this kind of being anything new, North Korea has always been exporting sand to a lot of its neighboring countries," Sung said.
Modern civilization is built on different types of sand. It's a key ingredient in concrete, glass and even the processors that power the electronic device you're reading this on. Humanity consumes about 50 billion tonnes of sand per year — more than any other natural resource on the planet except for water
The sand that blankets the world's deserts is too fine to use in construction because it doesn't bind well. River sand is typically the best for making cement. Sand from the bottom of the ocean works too, but it needs to be washed and desalinated before it can be used
Pyongyang has seemingly cashed in on the sand trade for years. Years ago, when North and South Korea did significant business together, sand was Pyongyang's most valuable export to its southern neighbor, according to media reports at the time. North Korea sold $73.35 million worth of sand to the Republic of Korea in 2008, though South Korea stopped buying North Korean sand shortly after
During the 2010s, the country underwent a construction boom unprecedented in world history — Beijing used more concrete in 2011 through 2013 than the United States did in the entire 20th century. Though the building boom has slowed today compared to its peak, China still uses more concrete than the rest of the world combined
Neither Sung or Kuo knows what happened to the million tons of sand after it was shipped to various Chinese ports across the country's coast. Sand smuggling is a major issue in China and the trade is notoriously opaque.
China's Ministry of Public Security, which did not respond to CNN's request for comment for this story, launched a campaign at the start of last year to crack down on illegal sand operations along the Yangtze River. By October, authorities had investigated 90 groups in 10 different provinces and seized $251 million, 305 sand mining vessels and 2.88 million cubic meters of sand, Chinese state media reported.
Beijing so far has denied allegations of any wrongdoing when it comes to the North Korean operation. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement to CNN that the country "has always fulfilled its international obligations" and abides by UN sanctions
In the UN report, China responded to the allegations by saying the country "attached great importance to the clues provided by the panel in relation to the smuggling of sand" but that authorities in the country were "unable to confirm that the sand had been transported to Chinese ports."
The who question is the more difficult one to determine. None of the 279 of the ships involved in the scheme that C4ADS identified had an IMO number — a unique identifier that's tied to a tracking device on board. Ships caught without them or obscuring them are often stripped of their registration in their home countries, which makes it almost impossible to enter a port. But without IMO numbers, it's hard to tie these vessels to particular companies or people
It's possible North Korea sold the dredging rights to a Chinese company, Sung and Kuo said. Sand isn't particularly difficult to mine, but it's a logistical nightmare. The cost of washing ocean sand, storing it and transporting such a heavy product quickly adds up
But there's another possibility: that Pyongyang was less interested in the sand itself and instead wanted to deepen or expand Haeju port. North Korea could have contracted a company with a fleet of ships based in China to do the dredging and let them keep the sand as payment
sand mine | anno 1800 wiki | fandom
Sand mine produces quartz sand. It can be built only in the Old World, it requires free coastline, no fertility or resource deposit is needed. It must be connected to a warehouse or a trading post by a road to enable goods transportation; adjacency to the trading post is not sufficient.
It takes 30 seconds to produce 1 ton of quartz sand so the production rate is 2 tons of quartz sand per minute. Productivity can be changed by adjusting working conditions and using items and electricity.
Quartz sand is an important resource obtained from the ocean. At first its only use is the production of windows. Later it becomes more important as it is used to produce goods such as glasses, light bulbs and champagne.
Some items when equipped in trade unions or harbourmaster's offices can have an impact on sand mines. Below you can find three lists of such items. The first part of the list contains items affecting only particular buildings including sand mines, the list is divided by rarity. The second list contains items affecting every production building in the game. The third list contains items affecting every harbour building.